The Death of Jesus Christ

Willmington's Guide to the Bible

    A. The awesomeness of it—the murder of Israel’s Messiah, the killing of the Creator.

    1. As pondered by the Old Testament prophets.

    "Of which salvation the prophets have enquired and searched diligently, who prophesied of the grace that should come unto you: searching what, or what manner of time the Spirit of Christ which was in them did signify, when it testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow" (1 Pet. 1:10, 11).

    "Then he said unto them, O fools, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken: Ought not Christ to have suffered these things, and to enter into his glory? And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself" (Lk. 24:25-27).

    "I gave my back to the smiters, and my cheeks to them that plucked off the hair: I hid not my face from shame and spitting" (Isa. 50:6).

    "Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all. He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth" (Isa. 53:4-7).

    "My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? why art thou so far from helping me, and from the words of my roaring?" (Ps. 22:1).

    "But I am a worm, and no man; a reproach of men, and despised of the people. All they that see me laugh me to scorn: they shoot out the lip, they shake the head, saying, He trusted on the Lord that he would deliver him: let him deliver him, seeing he delighted in him" (Ps. 22:6-8).

    "For dogs have compassed me: the assembly of the wicked have inclosed me: they pierced my hands and my feet. I may tell all my bones: they look and stare upon me. They part my garments among them, and cast lots upon my vesture" (Ps. 22:16-18).

    "They gave me also gall for my meat; and in my thirst they gave me vinegar to drink" (Ps. 69:21).

    "And after threescore and two weeks shall Messiah be cut off" (Dan. 9:26).

    "Awake, O sword, against my shepherd, and against the man who is my fellow [equal], saith the Lord of hosts; smite the shepherd, and the sheep shall be scattered" (Zech. 13:7).

    2. As pondered by the New Testament apostles.

    "And while they abode in Galilee, Jesus said unto them, The Son of man shall be betrayed into the hands of men: and they shall kill him, and the third day he shall be raised again. And they were exceeding sorry" (Mt. 17:22, 23).

    "A little while, and ye shall not see me: and again, a little while, and ye shall see me, because I go to the Father. Then said some of his disciples among themselves, What is this that he saith unto us, A little while, and ye shall not see me: and again a little while, and ye shall see me: and, Because I go to the Father?" (Jn. 16:16, 17).

    3. As pondered by the heavenly angels (1 Pet. 1:12; Eph. 3:10).

    We are told that angels desire to look into the things of salvation (1 Pet. 1:12). Surely some of these accompanying things which transpired during the earthly life of our Lord must have filled them with joy and pride. They marveled at his birth. They were inspired by his sermons and thrilled by his miracles. But how did those holy heavenly creatures react when they watched their beloved celestial Creator being systematically slaughtered by brutal mortal sinners? We cannot tell, but surely astonishment and outrage must have flooded their beings.

    B. The scope of it. For whom did Christ die? In general, it may be said that he died for the world, for the elect, and for each man.

    1. His death for the world.

    "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life" (Jn. 3:16).

    "The next day John seeth Jesus coming unto him, and saith, Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world" (Jn. 1:29).

    "And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world" (1 Jn. 2:2).

    "For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men" (Titus 2:11).

    "But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that brought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction" (2 Pet. 2:1).

    "The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is long-suffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance" (2 Pet. 3:9).

    "Who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time" (1 Tim. 2:6).

    "For therefore we both labor and suffer reproach, because we trust in the living God, who is the Savior of all men, specially of those that believe" (1 Tim. 4:10).

    2. His death for the elect.

    "But ye believe not, because ye are not of my sheep, as I said unto you. My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: and I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my Father’s hand" (Jn. 10:26-28).

    "I pray for them: I pray not for the world, but for them which thou hast given me, for they are thine" (Jn. 17:9).

    "And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name Jesus: for he shall save his people from their sins" (Mt. 1:21).

    "Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood" (Acts 20:28).

    "Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began, but is now made manifest by the appearing of our Savior Jesus Christ, who hath abolished death, and hath brought life and immortality to light through the gospel" (2 Tim. 1:9, 10).

    "According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love" (Eph. 1:4)

    "Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it" (Eph. 5:25).

    "And all that dwell upon the earth shall worship him, whose names are not written in the book of life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world" (Rev. 13:8).

    3. His death for each man.

    "But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honor; that he by the grace of God should taste death for every man" (Heb. 2:9).

    C. Old Testament examples of it. During that first Easter Sunday afternoon the resurrected Christ appeared unrecognized to two disciples on their way to Emmaus. After listening to their despair over the recent crucifixion of Israel’s Messiah, our Lord admonished them as follows:

    "Then he said unto them, O fools, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken: Ought not Christ to have suffered these things, and to enter into his glory? And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself" (Lk. 24:25-27).

    The following Old Testament events which speak of Jesus’ death were no doubt referred to by our Lord to those disciples during that afternoon conversation.

1. the coats of skin (Gen. 3:21)

2. the Passover lamb (Ex. 12)

3. the Levitical offerings (Lev. 1–5)

4. the ordinance of the red heifer (Num. 19)

5. the sacrifice on the day of atonement (Lev. 16)

6. the ark (1 Pet. 3:18-22)

7. the passage through the Red Sea (1 Cor. 10:1, 2)

8. the two memorials (Josh. 3-4)

9. the branch cast into the waters of Marah (Ex. 15:23-26)

10. the smitten rock (1 Cor. 10:4)

11. the brazen serpent (Jn. 3:14)


Taken from: Willmington's Guide to the Bible  1981, 1984 by H. L. Willmington.